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Wood River BBQ Team

Turkey Tips

Itís been almost 1 year since I smoked a turkey and it was on a cheapo offset and I could hardly close the cook chamber lid due to the size of the bird plus the outside temp was in high 30ís and windy Ė I had to use a welding blanket to help maintain the heat I was losing because of the thin cooker metal and weather conditions.

This Thanksgiving should be an easy cook on my Lang 36 BUT, to be sure, tomorrow Iím going to  test cook a 10lbs. bird to insure I get it right for the 13lbs. & 6 folks were having for Thanksgiving Ė I think thereís more pressure to get it right while cooking for guest than for competition!!  

Iím sure some of you pitmasterís can provide additional great tips. Hereís a few, for what they are worth, that Iíve learned over the years:

*Donít cook stuffing in turkey Ė it takes longer for the heat to get to the center of the bird.
*Cook the stuffing in a muffin pan!!
*Stuff cavity with quartered med onion, sage, thyme, 3 garlic cloves & peel of 1 orange.
*Donít inject if the bird is labeled enhanced, self basted or Kosher.
*Apply the wet rub over & UNDER the skin. I donít brine .
*Cook bird on a rack above a water filled roast pan.
*Donít trust the ďpop upĒ Ė itís set for 185 degrees. Use a DIGITAL THERMOMETER.
*Donít baste during the cook Ė it will make the skin soft. Apply oil BEFORE the cook.
*Remove at 160F internal and let rest for 15 minutes before carving.
*Donít tent while resting Ė steam will soften the skin.
*Remove breasts before slicing so you can slice across the grain.
*Cover wings, drumsticks with alum foil for part of the cook (veg oil alum for easy removal).
*Cook breast side UP.
*Remove clips holding drumsticks before cooking - my neighbor forgot to!!

Don G
Wood River BBQ Team

I "test drove" a 10lbs turkey today using the following method -- I started with lump and camp fire wood to build a hot base. No problem holding 300F. That's the easy part. At about 90F internal I added a combination of pecan & apple and stopped adding hardwood at about 140F, which is my usual practice and converted to lump for the rest of the cook and removed the bird at about 163F internal. My wife looked at the bird and asked "what the hell is that??". The bird was too dark looking but the sucker was moist and tasted great -- it just looked like crap!!

I never want any of my products to be over powered by smoke -- I think you should taste the flavor of the meat and not the smoke but I think I over did the smoke this time. †

The next turkey smoke is for real on turkey day and I can't afford to fool around because we have 6 guests who think I'm a pitmaster -- only because I told them I was and I have a $1200 Lang in my yard!! My plan is lump with very little smoke and I'm going to cook it the day BEFORE. If worse turns to worse there's a BBQ joint down the road and I'll buy a BIRD from them to maintain my reputation!!
wvanhoy

Could your smokestack extension be allowing too much smoke to cover your meat?

With your modification to try to equalize the temps from left to right, could you have created a draft issue in the process?  If this modification was not from you, I apologize.

I believe you had an earlier post where your butts were too smokey and I thought of this.

Also, there are pictures in other posts on this forum that show very dark turkeys.  I cannot say from personal experience yet so I am curious as to what responses you get.  I am trying to soak up as much information as possible before I get to order my Lang.

Good luck to you and continue to post.  I have already learned a good bit from the info that you have provided.
Wood River BBQ Team

wvanhoy: I've never had this problem with any of the meat I've cooked in the past and I changed nothing (Pinwheels/stack fully open/fuel) so I don't know what happened. I don't think it's the chimney extension -- it was just too much smoke. The cooking chamber has a layer of soot. When I was using briquets, I use Lump now, I had an ash problem.

Last years turkey, which I cooked on a cheapo smoker, came out looking and tasting great BUT I had converted the cheapo to propane. Yesterday turkey tasted good but looked like crap. It could have been a tad moisture but I didn't brine it (only injected) and that might be another mistake.

Today I'm buying a turkey breast, which I'm going to brine and inject and test drive. ALso, I'm going to cut back on the wood and use 95% lump.

Part of the problem is the Lang is such an efficient cooker that it doesn't take much to screw things up. You have a lot more leeway with the cheapo's as they are more forgiving. The Lang thinks I know what I'm doing and gives me back what I put into it!!

Don G
Wood River BBQ Team

I talked to some of the guys I compete with and they advised I should have brined the bird. I did last year but skipped it this year and just applied a rub and injected. According to these guys the brine induces the meat to allow moisture and flavor to enter the bird. They said I should brine for 12 hours max, then wash completely and let sit for 3 hours to let the skin dry.

I'm brining this next bird and we'll see what happens with my next test drive.

Don G
Midwest Freak

did you wrap it in foil at all ? just curious because i see a lot of guys split the turkey and then foil after you get the right internal temp .
Wood River BBQ Team

Frank: I didn't tent because I think it makes the skin soft but turkey is a product I cook once a year so it's hard to get good at it.

I did discover part of my problem. I use camp fire wood to get the lumps †going but pine, spruce and fir have a more open cell structure than hardwood and are loaded with sap and turpentine so they burn hot and fast, which is why I use them to develop the hot bed of coals.

Additionally, they produce a lot of smoke. Some how this junk wood got mixed in with my pecan and I never noticed it even thought pecan and the other stuff don't even look the same. My wife later told me she cleaned up and organized my wood pile of mesquite, oak, pecan and camp fire wood. I can't blame her as I should have noticed the difference but I kept piling in the combo of cheap stuff and pecan -- no wonder it was easy to maintain 300F !! We live and learn.

Don G
DBA1954

I did a 13 lb bird 3 weeks ago. Smoked with cherry and maple mix at 325. I had it on a rack, in a foil pan, on the bottom rack of the smoker. At the 2 hour point I basted with butter. She was done at around 4 hours and was perfect. Turkey  (chickens too) can take on a lot of smoke quickly. Cooking hotter I think reduces the exposure time a little. I plan to do one for thanksgiving for sure.
Wood River BBQ Team

What did it look like? Mine looked like I painted it with dark brown shoe polish or paint!! I cooked at 300F but I thnk I'll jack the next one up to 325F.
DBA1954

it was golden to dark brown. I used mostly Maple with some cherry. The cherry makes it a little darker ...
Wood River BBQ Team

wvanhoy/midwest Freak; This Sunday I'm test driving another turkey but it's a breast -- if the breast works I may go with 2 on Thanksgiving and skip the whole bird. If the skin color starts to get away from me I'm going to tent it. Also, I'm going to turn the bird end to end 1/2 way through the cook to even out the heat, which I didn't do the last time -- it just didn't occur to me to turn it until it was too late. I had its rearend facing left, which I'll stick with as oppossed to the rear end facing the back of the cooker. Maybe it doesn't matter. Also, I'm going to brine it, which I didn't do the last time. I'll still apply a rub and inject.

My injector is a piece of work!! I purchased it from www.howto bbqright.com and they call it their BDI injector (Best Damm Injector) -- I could do artificial inseminations as a side line with this sucker!!

When you only do a cook once a year it's hard to get good it at. I'm sure glad I'm trying this cook now on my Lang instead of Thanksgiving day -- I only have one shot to get it right.

Don G
animal

I just cook on a Lang, simple brine and put it in the cooker, no excuses and nothing needs to be explained

https://scontent-a-ord.xx.fbcdn.n...10201514937737554_752670419_n.jpg
mr.piggy

animal,  that's looks beautiful. great job,  I am doing a 8 lb chicken today on my 36. going to start with lump charcoal and add cherry or apple wood.  
can you tell me what temp you cooked on . I was thinking about 250.


                                               thanks vincent
DBA1954

looks fantastic ! Great job ....
Wood River BBQ Team

Animal: Nice looking turkey -- I wish mine had come off the cooker looking like that.

I'm cooking another one today, which I just removed from the brine (7:00AM). It has been sitting in brine since 6:00PM last night -- I didn't brine the last one, which I'd have been embarressed to serve. As soon as I lifted the cooker lid I knew I was in trouble. It was dry and just over cooked even though I removed it at 163F internal and cooked it at 295F to 300F. The lack of brine sure would have helped. It isn't the first or last cook that I've messed up.

I am going to inject today because I feel that's the only way to get the fats, herbs, spices and flavors deep into the meat. Brine barely penetrates the surface even if one leaves it in the brine for 24 hours.

Don G
choclit1967

I agree with Animal!!!!!!!!!!!!! don't make it harder than wat it is, jst let the Lang work!!!!!!!!!!
Wood River BBQ Team

choclit1967: I assume you think, along with animal, that brinning is all that's needed but I wonder if you might also think that maybe, in addition to brinning, that a dry or wet rub plus an injection might enhance the flavor even more - as it does for every piece of meat including a turkey?

Check out what www.amazingribs.com and www.howtobbqright.com think about the subject of brinning, wet rub and injection. The guys that run those sites have forgotten more than I'll ever know about BBQ'ing -- in two life times. In fact, the mate that runs the amazing ribs site thinks brinning is a waste of time because of the lack of penetration and he presents the scientific test proof to back it up. I'm going to brine anyway because I think it helps but I'm not stopping there.

What's so hard about adding a rub and injecting? The Lang will cook anything, including shoe leather, if you prepare it properly but it won't produce a silk purse out of a sow's ear by itself.  Ask anyone who has cooked in competition -- preparation is everything.
mr.piggy

hey bbq brethren, great bbq chicken ,no brine just salt & pepper . cooked with cherry wood, 2 baked potatoes  & 2 sweet potatoes. great coler  about 250 f  great coler and juicie
Wood River BBQ Team

Mr. Piggy: Ok, next time ADD one item to your recipe, which is a brine of Zesty Italian Dressing (Walmart). Compare it against your method and see what you think. "Q'ing" is all about experimentation!!! Chicken is cheap - if you don't like the Zesty go back to what works for you  -- once you try the zesty I don't think you will but who knows.
mr.piggy

[quote="Wood River BBQ Team:2398"]Mr. Piggy: Ok, next time ADD one item to your recipe, which is a brine of Zesty Italian Dressing (Walmart). Compare it against your method and see what you think. "Q'ing" is all about experimentation!!! Chicken is cheap - if you don't like the Zesty go back to what works for you †-- once you try the zesty I don't think you will but who knows.[/quote]


hey don no pun intended I am very new to this bbq stuff  I never brined any poultry. I for the last 35 plus years I thought I was bbqing  till I got my lang, and this forum as helped and guided me ,yea I used only charcoal grills all my life.  never knew what slow & low was. I am  up for the zesty dressing . can you give me any pointers.   tks Vincent
Wood River BBQ Team

Vincent: Me too, I thought BBQ'ing was cooking on a gas grill. I had a Coleman (looked like a WSM) that I only cooked turkeys on and I thought that was bbq. Then after watching the "pitmasters" I bought a cheapo smoker and got hooked and became a constant  student of BBQ and I take every opportunity to learn new things and improve my technique. I knew I needed better equiptment and bought the Lang. The Lang will do anything I tell it to do, right or wrong -- more so on the wrong - but I'm getting there.

I've learned a lot on this forum but no where near what I've learned from www.amazingribs.com and www.howtobbqright.com. My suggesting is for you visit those sites and review their advise regarding the pieces of meat you intend to cook. They'll take you from start to finish through the entire cook.

Last summer I picked up two firsts on chicken during our community competion (back yard division) using the collective info from both those sites. The best I've done with the rest of the stuff is second and third, mostly third, so I've got work to do. I know what the judges are looking for but I can't produce it. In a couple of cases, I wouldn't eat the crap that came in first but the judges decision is final.

Take a look at those sites and their advise on chicken and see what you think.

Don G
choclit1967

Tsk Tsk, has some1 there feeling hurt, it amazes me hat some1 can go to a bbq site & repost the knowledge & infomation that they have read as there own!!!!!!!!!!
Wood River BBQ Team

Do you think I was born with BBQ knowledge? Instead of blindly agreeing with someone maybe you could come up with you're own opinion  -- and back it up with experience.
Wood River BBQ Team

I didn't have time this morning to properly reply to the above message, but now I do.

I thought this forum was a place to exchange ideas and solutions. I didn't
realize everything had to be original, which is about the dumdest thing I've ever heard. I've stated numerous times that EVERYTHING I know about BBQ came from the two sites I mentioned (why do you think I refer folks to those sites?)PLUS from numerous BBQ articles, google searches and yuotube. Our team would not be at our present level were it not for folks  like Meathead, Malcolm Reed, Myron Mixon, Johhny Trigg and others. Only a moran would ignore their advise.

They have showed my team the way and saved us countless dollars in fuel, wasted time and not ruined product. We cook just about every week end and if we're going to compete we test it during the week. We combine all the info we can obtain about a particular product and then tweek it to see if it works. If it doesn't work we go back to the drawing board. Next season we're moving out of the backyard competition division, because we think we've got the product dialed in and are ready for a higher competition level.

So the bottom line is that anything I submit was researched and TESTED on a Lang and I can tell you why & how it worked or why it didn't work and what I'm doing to correct it.

Additionally, everything I know about a Lang cooker I learned on this site and I don't care where the contributor obtained his info as long as he passes it on to me.
mr.piggy

[quote="Wood River BBQ Team:2400"]Vincent: Me too, I thought BBQ'ing was cooking on a gas grill. I had a Coleman (looked like a WSM) that I only cooked turkeys on and I thought that was bbq. Then after watching the "pitmasters" I bought a cheapo smoker and got hooked and became a constant †student of BBQ and I take every opportunity to learn new things and improve my technique. I knew I needed better equiptment and bought the Lang. The Lang will do anything I tell it to do, right or wrong -- more so on the wrong - but I'm getting there.

I've learned a lot on this forum but no where near what I've learned from www.amazingribs.com and www.howtobbqright.com. My suggesting is for you visit those sites and review their advise regarding the pieces of meat you intend to cook. They'll take you from start to finish through the entire cook.

Last summer I picked up two firsts on chicken during our community competion (back yard division) using the collective info from both those sites. The best I've done with the rest of the stuff is second and third, mostly third, so I've got work to do. I know what the judges are looking for but I can't produce it. In a couple of cases, I wouldn't eat the crap that came in first but the judges decision is final.

Take a look at those sites and their advise on chicken and see what you think.

Don G[/quote  hey don tks for getting back to me yea I went on the amazing rib site  for help and answers a couple of times.   also all the youtube one can watch.    watch adam franklin. he is from texas he is good. any keep posting all info . IT CAN HELP  ALL OF US     vincent
BamaBBQ

Any suggestions for raising my turkeys (two 10 pounders) approximately 3 inches above the top of an aluminum foil pan in my Lang 36?  Thinking about making a gravy using the drippings from the birds.  The top shelf of the cooker won't give me enough room for the turkeys, so that option is out.
Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
Wood River BBQ Team

Bamabbq: Go to www.amazingribs.com and search for "BBQ turkey & turkey on the grill". About 1/3 of the way through the article, just before "injecting & brining" you'll see a picture of a turkey sitting on a wire rack above a roasting pan. This is the water set up I use for a lot of the meat I cook. You don't need to be 3" above the pan but if you wanted to get 1" or 2" above the pan you could use some square tubing from Ace or Home Depot. The turkey pans with the "V" rack don't work because the heat & smoke can't circulate around the meat -- circulation is what you want.

Check out "meatheads" (that's what they call the author) gravy receipe.

I rarely use the top rack and it looks like new. The bottom rack works best for me because I installed a CHIMNEY EXTENSION, which forces the heat and smoke over the bottom rack as opposed to where it wants to go, which is "up & out the chimney".

I'm cooking a 10lbs turkey breast on Thursday and I could cook 2 of them on my set up if I wanted to.

Don G

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